Tyler Hansborough is a Toronto Raptor.
I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with the idea of one of the most hated players in the NBA wearing a Raptors uniform, but for many reasons the deal to bring Hansborough north, makes a lot of sense.
The Raptors, having just dealt Andrea Bargnani to New York for Steve Novak, draft picks and old guys had a hole to fill up front. In Hansborough they get a player who will rebound, fight for loose balls and defend the basket. He’s a “blue-collar” player and will likely be a key reserve for the Raps off the bench.
In Indiana he earned himself a dubious reputation for hard fouls, rough play and agitating opponents. It is no surprise most Raptor fans dislike him as a player, because he has earned a living off his ability to agitate opposing teams. Most in Raptor land will recall his tussle down low with Jonas Valanciunas this past year. Certainly that upset us, but will it upset us when he’s tossing Chris Bosh to the floor? fouling Carmelo Anthony hard on his way to the rim? How doees our perception change now that he’s wearing our laundry?
How many times over the last number of years have you thought or heard others commenting on the Raptors need to “send a message” to opposing players in the key? While teams walked through the paint and scored layups in buckets on our porous interior defense, the Raptors needed a big body to send a message that the paint wasn’t open for business.
Bargnani wasn’t going to send that message, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas often got themselves into too much foul trouble to be effective and weren’t available for that kind of duty.
He is here to send a message. To stop the parade to the bucket, to make opposing teams think twice about driving the ball through the lane. The Raptors aren’t going to make it easy on anyone this year.
Ujiri, when discussing Hansborough this week added, “I’m tired of people who come here and call the team soft or pushovers and all those stupid names…Come to Canada and you come to play…That’s the identity we are trying to build. This is our team and we’re going to be tough out there.”
Toronto hasn’t had a player like Hansborough since the days of Charles Oakley. A player that will stand up to opposing players, no matter how unpopular it might be at times.
Masai Ujiri has sent a message to his team as well. We are not going to be pushovers this year. We aren’t going down without a fight. We aren’t going to let other teams take advantage of us.
While I have never liked playing against Tyler Hansborough, I might like him a lot more watching him frustrate and annoy other teams. It’s always better to have a player like that on your own team.
What makes the signing even better for Toronto is the fact it costs them very little in terms of capspace and guaranteed year. Also, in time, they have a very tradeable asset to use when needed. The deal, believed to be worth about $million a year, is a steal for a player of Hansborough’s skill set.
Hansborough likely becomes the first “big” off the bench and is primed to play some big minutes for the Raptors with the departure of Bargnani. He will produce rebounds, blocks, will defend the basket and isn’t afraid to send a message when necessary. Not something the team was able to get out of Andrea Bargnani.
Most importantly this move is all about culture change. Andrea Bargnani, known as a soft player, is gone. Hansborough adds toughness and grit and can do the little things Bargnani couldn’t or wouldn’t do. He is a player that will work hard and fight every possession. This is a player that can really infuse a hard-working mentality into this roster. Something the Raps, need.
Hansborough, while not on many favourite player lists, just might earn his way into the hearts of fans with his hard work and effort.
In many ways Masai Ujiri has acquired the “anti-Bargnani”.
The Zan Tabak Herald